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This article is written by Daksha Khanna from Symbiosis Law School, Noida. This article focuses on India’s security mechanisms and Chief of the Defence Staff compared to the United States, United Kingdom and France. 


In the last ten years, several developments took place at the global level, which infused insecurity amongst all the world community members, which even included the two superpowers. When discussing developments, it is considered that advanced weapons are no more sufficient to guarantee a state’s security. India cannot ensure its safety. An attempt is made to look at India’s stake in the context of changing global, regional and national scenarios and to examine its security requirements in light of a significant paradigm shift in the idea of security. The term security is not precisely defined and therefore, can be interpreted in a variety of ways. In the past, the term national security was interpreted narrowly, as security of territory from external aggression; protection of national interest in foreign policy; and global security from the threat of nuclear holocaust. It has been more related to the security of the state rather than the people. This limited perspective concentrates on military threats and the need for using military force to defeat them. National security is then equated with state security, expansion of military capabilities, acquisition of weapon systems to counter the adversary, quest for nuclear weapons. 

Chief of Defence Staff

The CDS situation is anything but another presentation into the Indian setting, not to mention the worldwide environment. Most nations with a well-prepared armed force, flying corps and naval force have since quite a while ago settled a place of a general head of its military. The worldwide forces rushed to set up a broad top of the military, with the experience of ungraceful assaults and resultant calamities. For example, when the British naval power and armed forces were uninformed of one another’s arrangements during the assault at Gallipoli in the First World War, the need for a joint order for the three powers was featured. 

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The head of safeguard staff (CDS) of the Indian Armed Forces is the top of the military staff, Indian Armed Forces, and the Department of Military Affairs CEO. As the most elevated positioning official of the Armed powers, the CDS is the instructing figure of the Joint Commanders and Staff Committee. Here, the CDS has an active job where he is mindful as the central military consultant to India and the Ministry of Defense’s public authority. As the top of the military, the Chief of Defense Staff is additionally helped by the recently framed office of Vice Chief of Defense Staff, the country’s second most elevated positioning military official, and the three heads of staff of the military, naval force and flying corps, who are the heads of each particular branch. The first and current CDS is General Bipin Rawat, who got to work on 1 January, 2020. 

The higher guard association’s productive administration’s issue came into sharp concentration after the Kargil battle in 1999 when the K. Subrahmanyam-headed team was asked to inspect inquiries about Pakistani’s expectation and discovery interruptions in Kargil and the military reaction. The key master and his group featured the fundamental issues upsetting our public security structures, including helpless coordination and mechanical insufficiencies. On its proposals, the Government entrusted a Group of Ministers (GoM) in the mid-2000s to attempt an audit of public security on the board. Their recommendations covered knowledge, inner protection, fringe the board and safeguard. These brought about a redesign, which incorporated a National Security Adviser’s arrangement, reinforcing insight coordination components, overhauling the mechanical limit of security organizations, and honing institutional reactions to conventional and arising inside security challenges. Safeguarding the executives was the one region in which the usage of the GoM’s suggestions was frustrating.

Tenure of CDS

The tenure/duration of office of the Chief of Defence Staff will be maximum up to the age of 65 years. The defence ministry amended the army, air force and navy rules to bring in the new clause that relaxes the age limit.

Functions of CDS

The Chief of Defence Staff acts as an advisor to the military and the government concerning important defence and strategic issues for the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. The hour’s need is now to accelerate good coordination among the three defence wings by utilizing the limited resources. Since India is a nuclear weapons state, the CDS acts as the military advisor to the Prime Minister on atomic issues. Now the tenure of the CDS will be up to 65 years of age. The rank of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is kept at a higher pedestal than the three army chiefs. The functions will be as follows:

  • He will act as the Principal Military Advisor to the Defense Minister on all tri-Services matters.
  • The CDS will act as the military advisor to the Atomic Command Authority.
  • He/she will not command the military.
  • CDS will be a member of the Defense Acquisition Council. The Minister of Defense heads the council.
  • He/she will be the permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
  • CDS will also act as the head of the Department of Military Affairs.
  • Implementation of weapons procurement procedures. 
  • The function includes efficient integration of the three wings, namely; Army, Navy and Air Force. 
  • CDS has the authority to give theatre commands as and when required or considered essential. 

The Impact of CDS on National Security

  • The role of a joint CDS is not a replacement idea. Several armies across the globe, together with the US, the UK, France, Australia and Pakistan, have an equally outlined idea with completely different titles and responsibility charters. Though in India’s specific context, we are going to construct our model.
  • The CDS must be vested with full trust and confidence of the three combat services, and he must be able to work closely with the Department of Defence under the defence secretary. Some recommendations from numerous committees were accepted, as the Services Headquarters’ combination with the Ministry of Defence and its Integrated Headquarters. However, the reality remained unchanged with the civil forms still virtually up to the mark. The greatest sufficient resolution was the appointment of a CDS.
  • The government’s supremacy will remain unfettered even though the CDS will have an authoritative and essential role. In reality, the authority will still be in the hands of the government and its bureaucracy. 
  • There has been the apprehension of resentment from the air force and the navy related to a CDS idea because they think it would reduce their power. A solution to this fear is to maintain a rotation between the service from which the CDS would be appointed.
  • An important part of the CDS’ responsibilities is the ones pertaining to Strategic Forces Command’s Authority, responsible for executing the nuclear missions. In India, all nuclear-related decisions are taken by the Nuclear Command Authority, and the CDS would be an advisor to them. 

Chief of the Defence Staff – United Kingdom

In the UK, CDS is the professional and authoritative head of the British Armed Forces. He also functions as an Advisor to the Secretary of State for Defence and the United Kingdom’s prime minister. The Chief of the Defence Staff is appointed on the Secretary of State’s recommendation for Defence to the Prime Minister. After this, the Queen approves the appointment.

The CDS holds the position of operational command and oversees everything related to combat tasks. He/she has several people working under him/her that look after training and maintaining the three forces. The CDS is not involved in the nuclear affairs of the State.

Chief of the Defence Staff – United States

The USA only gives the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee the power to act as the transit point of all information between all Chiefs and the President. The President does not instruct the Chairman as to all combat operations but the unified combat commanders themselves. This clear demarcation arises from the Goldwater-Nichols Act in the USA. This also sets an example for India, where the country could benefit heavily from having an Act that could restrict the CDS’ power and role. This will quell the fears regarding supreme power with the CDS and overpowering the civil power by the CDS. In the US, all nuclear decisions are made by the President and not the chief of defence staff. 

Chief of the Defence Staff – France

The Chief of Defence Staff heads the armed forces of the French Republic. The function is to ensure the commandment of all military operations. 

  • They are consulted on the direction to be given to planning and programming work and may be charged by the Minister with any study concerning the armies.
  • The Chief of Staff is responsible for the alleviation of coordinating the forces’ requirements in support of joint services.
  • CDS looks over the task of conducting the operations.
  • CDS is also involved in taking nuclear decisions. 

Critical analysis of the National Security Mechanisms in India

Despite the several measures taken through the ‘Make in India programme’, the Indian defence industry still suffers from several issues that need urgent attention and redressal. 

Above trends notwithstanding, there remains a bit of frustration within the domestic industry and potential foreign investors. The Indian armaments industry does not have a tradition of reverse engineering to establish local production of many of the foreign weapons systems in its inventory. Traditional tendencies of that of the pacifists continue to create a blockage in the arms exports and act as a barrier to shoring up and expanding the Indian defence industrial base, even to meet the nation’s steadily growing requirements.

Firstly, an alarming concern of India’s armament strategy is to find a solution to the problem of the pending block of major weapons systems. Secondly, there is a lack of political consensus in the country on national security issues. For example, there is no set procedure or consensus on dealing with difficulties and challenges from Pakistan and China. Thirdly, it lacks the power to enforce anything. The departmental interests are powerful, and it becomes difficult to coordinate them efficiently. There is a lack of a common ground of understanding among various factions of the government of what national security constitutes.

Lastly, there is an urgent need to build a broad political consensus on national security issues. An official National Security Strategy document, for the next ten years, is urgently needed. This will help clarify confusion over national security matters and consolidate the government’s responses. More importantly, it will generate informed debate which may help build consensus.


  • The government must commit itself to support long-term defence plans, or else defence modernization will start lagging. 
  • The defence procurement decision-making process needs to be sped up. 
  • There should be an appreciation of the emerging security environment taking into account the world’s geopolitical changes.
  • A proper assessment of the country’s national strengths and weaknesses should be considered to deal with the challenges.
  • It is essential to identify the military, economic, diplomatic resources needed to meet the challenges.


Some recommendations from numerous committees were accepted as the Services Headquarters’ combination with the Ministry of Defence and its baptism as Integrated Headquarters. However, the operational reality remained unchanged with the civil forms still virtually up to the mark. The maximum sufficient resolution was the appointment of a CDS. Under the National Self-Reliance Program of India 2020, strategic objectives have been set to reach high levels, if not complete self–reliance in national production, including defence production over the next 20 years.


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